What Are The Five Main Types Of Solar Batteries
The type of battery you need for your home solar system depends on a wide range of factors, including how much you want to invest, how much electricity you need to store, how important green factors are to you, and how much space you have to store the batteries. The five most common types of batteries for residential solar panels are:
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Solar Power
Here are some reasons why you might choose solar over another source of power:
- Renewable: Sunlight is an infinite resource. Its not like oil, which we remove from the Earth and spend when we use it. The suns rays can be harvested for energy over and over again without depleting the source.
- Lower Electric Bills: As a replacement for grid-tied properties , solar power costs just a fraction of what you pay the utility company each month. A properly sized system can drop your electric bill to $0.
- Remote power: If you live in a remote location, it may be too expensive or impossible to run power lines to your house. Solar power systems generate energy when you cant hook into the power grid.
- Improve Property Value: Homes equipped with solar systems sell for 3.74% more than equivalent homes without solar. Solar homes sell for $14,329 more on average. Read more about how solar impacts property values. Off-grid solar also enables you to buy affordable undeveloped property in rural areas.
Here are some drawbacks to consider before going solar:
Read more: The Pros and Cons of Solar Power.
Cost Of A Solar Panel Installation
Solar panels today are more cost-effective than a decade ago.
The typical solar panel cost is between 50-70 cents per watt. If you had a 350W panel at 50 cents per watt, it costs $175. When your home needs 20 solar panels, the cost increases to $3500.
Do not forget about the solar panel installation costs. The rates depend on the solar company. Expect an average installation price of $15,000 to $30,000.
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Best Flexible Solar Panels For A Camper
There are a number of brands that make flexible solar panels specifically for campers. Commonly, these panels can bend up to 30 degrees making them a good choice for curved surfaces like teardrop trailers or boats.
They are also lightweight and are much easier to install than rigid panels.
For the best flexible panels, we recommend ALLPOWERS, Renogy and Suaoki brands. They share many of the same features including a decent warranty, high efficiency, and resistance to extreme weather.
Pros And Cons Of Solar Panel Kits
Lets take a look at the fundamental benefits and drawbacks associated with solar panel kits.
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Basic Components Of A Small Solar Power System
Before we look at the different options for small solar power systems, lets get an idea of the basic components of any solar installation.
Small solar power systems can either be a permanent addition to a cabin, RV, or other structure or designed to be transportable so you can take it with you. In either situation, there are some basic building blocks that youll need that are common to all off-grid solar systems.
Obviously, youll need a solar panel. For this article, were focusing on 100-watt panels, as they are extremely common for small solar setups. These panels are typically around 4 x 2 and produce you guessed it 100 watts of electricity in perfect weather. 50 watt and 150 watt panels are fairly common as well.
Before choosing a solar panel, you need to think about how much electricity youll need to keep your batteries charged up. A 100-watt panel will charge your batteries slower than a 200-watt panel.
If your system will be permanently affixed to a roof or other place, also dont forget the mounting hardware! Your panels can be installed flat against the roof or with adjustable hardware so you can position the panels directly in line with available sunlight, thereby providing more electricity.
100-watt solar panels are widely available online and can be had for $100 to $150 pretty easily.
Charge controllers can be as cheap or expensive as you want, but typically range from $20 to a couple hundred dollars.
Final Inspection And Interconnection To The Grid
Once your installation is complete, schedule an inspection with the local AHJ. The inspector will assess if the system is compliant with local ordinances, and whether the design matches those laid out in your plans.
The system will also need to pass an electrical inspection to ensure that it is code-compliant.
Once youve passed the inspection, you can apply for interconnection with the grid. The utility will either install a second meter, or replace your existing one with a bi-directional meter. The bi-directional meter can record your homes power exports the grid so that you can receive credits on your power bill.
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Renogy Rv Solar Panel Kits
Renogy makes a large selection of solar panel kits. They are one of the most popular companies for van lifers and offer different sizes and upgrade options.
You can pick the solar panel type, charge controller type and choose kits that come with more or less components.
One of the things to pay attention to is whether youre buying a starter bundle, or a full RV kit. The starter bundles normally do not come with mounting brackets or connectors. They have the bare minimum of components and are the cheapest.
Renogy RV kits come with pretty much everything you need except the batteries.
One of the things we like most about Renogy is their straightforward instructions. Their kits come with simple wiring diagrams that lay out all of the components and they have excellent customer support to help you connect your system.
Installing a solar panel kit on your camper van or RV should follow the same steps as installing rigid solar panels listed above.
What Are Solar Trackers Are They Worth It
Trackers are mounts that automatically follow the suns position in the sky to maximize the production from your panels.
Does it sound like a great idea? Sure! Should you buy one? Almost never, no.
The reason is simple: tracking hardware costs more than the solar panels themselves! if you need more production, just add a few more panels to your arrayits far more cost-effective.
The one exception is large commercial or industrial projects. The hardware gets cheaper on a very large scale, and commercial projects sometimes dont have the land available to reach 100% energy offset.
Solar trackers may make sense in this particular scenario, but they certainly arent right for most customers.
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How Many Watts Do You Use
When looking at your utility bill, you should be able to see kilowatt-hours . KWH for homes can vary greatly depending on location. A home in the south is more likely to draw massive amounts of energy from air conditioner units.
Finding the average daily energy usage will help you calculate your solar needs. Once you have your usage you can look at how much wattage youll need to be able to run everything.
What Are All The Power Terms And What Do They Mean
All the terms relating to solar kits involve power, energy and capacity. For calculations, they are usually noted as follows:
- Power in watts = current in amps x voltage in volts
- Energy in watt hours = power in watts x time in hours
- Battery capacity in amp hours = energy in watt hours / voltage in volts
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Dokio 300w Portable Solar Panel Kit
Heres an example of a kit that was built with portability in mind. As opposed to the kits weve looked at so far, this one wasnt built to be mounted in one place. It was built to be moved and transported, and to provide you with portable power on-the-go.
It all starts with the foldable design of the solar panels themselves. These panels can be folded up into a compact carrying package. It resembles a large suitcase, but only weighs 17 pounds. There are carrying handles attached to the sides, which makes transporting a breeze.
The panels themselves are highly capable. You get 300W of power in total, which is extremely impressive for a portable solar panel. Its made possible through high-efficiency monocrystalline technology. The panels are also extremely efficient for their size, and are only 0.9 inches thick.
This package also contains a charge controller which is suitable for any 12V battery. The charge controller also includes 2 USB outlets for portable devices. Whether you are looking to charge a portable generator, or just need some extra power for your camping trip, this device will fit the bill.
Overall, a very high-quality portable panel. If you want a panel to travel with you on the road, then this is the one for you.
- Foldable design with easy carrying case.
- Includes charge controller for battery or for USB devices.
- Not ideal if you want a device that can be permanently mount.
Types And Purpose Of A Charge Controller
A charge controller primarily regulates the voltage transfer from the solar panels to the batteries. With this device, you can prevent overcharging and monitor the readings closely.
A single-phase charge controller only connects to devices belonging to one class of voltage. It converts the voltage range of a fixed phase to a variable range.
Single Phase Trickle
The single-phase trickle controller converts the single-phase voltage into a lower range. This enables the current to get distributed evenly.
A multi-phase controller can connect more than one device of varying voltage ranges at the same time.
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Windynation Solar Panel Kits
WindyNation is more popular with the RV community. What we like most about their solar kits is that they come with battery upgrades. This ensures that all of your components are designed to work together without having to worry about incompatible components.
While their solar kits do not allow you to upgrade the charge controller, we think the kits are a great value for someone new to solar and the easiest way to get your system up and running.
Final Thoughts About Solar Battery Systems
If youre looking for even more energy independence and resilience for when the grid goes down, solar battery backup systems provide an elegant solution. Solar energy systems coupled with batteries are a match made in heaven.
These powerful systems can intelligently switch between using solar power, battery storage, and grid power. Solar batteries allow you to avoid using grid power at peak price times, which can lead to big power bill savings.
For more guidance on choosing the right battery for your home, battery types, and battery reviews , explore our following resources:
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What Are Solar Arrays Made Of
A solar array is a collection of solar panels wired together into a circuit.
Solar panels, in turn, are a collection of photovoltaic solar cells, covered with protective glass and held together with a metal frame. Solar cells are made of semiconductor material, typically silicon, that is sliced incredibly thin.
Individual solar cells generate electrical power using the photovoltaic process: photons in sunlight separate electrons from the silicon, generating an electric charge. This process is why solar panel systems are also called PV systems.
The number of solar panels used depends on the power output, or wattage, of each individual panel as well as the total system size desired. For example, a 7,000 watt residential solar system might be built using 28 solar panels with an output of 250 watts each, or just 19 solar panels with an output of 375 watts each.
All of the components other than the solar array are sometimes referred to collectively as the balance of system .
Which Battery Type Is Best For Solarflooded Sealed Or Lithium
Solar batteries fall into three main categories. From least to most expensive, they are:
- Flooded lead-acid
- Sealed lead-acid
Flooded lead-acid batteries use a tried-and-true technology that is more than 100 years old. They require monthly maintenance to stay operational. The main task is refilling the battery with distilled water, which evaporates during the charge cycle.
Sealed lead-acid batteries also use a lead-acid chemistry, but are sealed to prevent off-gassing. They are also maintenance-free, which removes the need for monthly checkups. Go with a sealed battery if you dont mind paying a bit more for convenience.
Lithium batteries are the premium option. In addition to being maintenance-free, they charge faster, endure deeper discharge cycles, and have a longer lifespan. They cost the most up front, but could last 2-3 times longer than the other options.
We compare the most common solar battery choices in our lead-acid vs. lithium battery breakdown.
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What Are Solar Panel Kits
As the name implies, a solar panel kit is a bundle of solar energy generation equipment. These kits are sold in a package that makes them easy to assemble, helping homeowners avoid guesswork while going through solar installation. There are many different versions of these kits for sale, and each is designed for particular purposes and needs. Choosing one requires deciding on a budget and which features you cannot live without for even a day.
Owning Panels Outright Vs Leasing Or Renting
The quick answer is that if you can afford to pay cash for your panels, then pay cash. Homeowners who negate any kind of solar leasing will often break into the green in as little as 4 to 5 years. Imagine never having to pay your electric bill again. While this is every homeowners dream, not everyone can afford to make the kind of meaty transaction that solar systems require, with even basic panel packages frequently costing upwards of $15,000.
For those unable or unwilling to part with that much cash, theres always leasing. Like a home or car loan, this allows you to pay for your panels over time. Say you have your panels installed in the middle of summer. A big pro with leasing is that once your system is live, youll be able to engage in net metering right away, as you wont be in the throes of recouping a hefty cash purchase. With many solar brands, this can also take the burden off of homeowners when it comes to maintenance. Regular check-ups and round-the-clock service from your chosen solar brand are often built into lease agreements.
For the long-term, this also means things like no increase in property value, which is a big perk of owning or leasing.
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What Are The Pros And Cons Of Diy Solar Panels
Although cheaper than going solar with a professional solar company, DIY solar is still a big and costly commitment. Youll want to figure out whether a DIY solar panel installation is right for you before youre too heavily invested in the process!
To help you decide if DIY solar is worth it for you, here is a list of the possible pros and cons:Table: Pros and cons of DIY solar panels
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What Do Solar Panel Kits Include
Most kits will include light mounting hardware. Some will also offer a battery bank solar device or monocrystalline panels. Check the package carefully to know what kind of solar battery the package includes. Ensure the solar power system has the power output to power your home. If you have any questions about the solar kits specific nature and what it contains, dont hesitate to ask the vendor. Youll require a full kit that includes everything you need to produce renewable energy.
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How Does Solar Power Work On My Rv
RV solar charging is experiencing a groundswell, but a lack of unified platforms is still allowing many RV owners to use solar charging how they see fit. While applications are limited, more and more RV solar charging kits are becoming available each sunny season.
The problem with the lack of a clear market leader or standard practice means that solar charging for your RV requires specialized experience and products. For you to safely install any solar charging expansion kits, its important you find a partner who knows RVs well not just solar in order to get the right equipment for your RV.